About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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 Dad's Guitars - 1 Timothy 6:7


It's inevitable.  Whenever I listen to Vince Gill's 1991 song entitled "Look At Us", tears will begin to flow.  It was probably my dad's favourite song from 1991 to the day he died on June 7, 2001.  He was captivated by the slow, smooth sounding, steel guitar solo in that song.  He'd say it sends shivers up his spine.  I certainly understand dad's feelings, so without exception, a steel guitar always reminds me of my father. 


Even though my taste in music is more diverse than what dad's was, like dad, I enjoy a good song.  I also play guitar, although dad had more raw talent than I have.  He played lap steel in a country band in the late 1940's.  You could hear the band every week on their radio show or see them playing their hearts out at dances across the countryside.   


Dad could have easily ended up in Nashville playing with the best of them.  He was that talented.  If he had such aspirations they were squelched in 1956 when he became a Christian as a result of Jesus healing me of Juvenile Diabetes at the age of five.  Back then playing guitar in a secular band was sinful.  Dad had no other choice but to leave the band.  The sad fact is that the church associated his guitar with sinful music.  So, musically speaking, dad, his guitars, and his talent, were held hostage; a church imposed house arrest, so to speak.  His guitar playing was relegated to our house until the church came to its senses by releasing the guitar into the service of the Lord in the early 1960's.


In the 1950's dad traded his lap steel for a triple neck National steel guitar.  Dad was more than a guitar player.  He was a husband and a father.  For that reason, he felt compelled to sell the National steel to buy his family a refrigerator.  That must not have been easy for him.  That left dad with an old flat top, as he called it, acoustic Kay guitar.   


By the time I was a teenager I wanted to play guitar.  I attempted to learn on dad's old Kay, but that was difficult.  According to dad's own words, he had no patience to teach anyone, including me, how to play a guitar.  He simply showed me three chords; G, D, and C.  That was it.  I would figure out the rest on my own.  


When it came time for me to buy my own guitar I bought one of the best.  In 1969 I purchased a new Gibson Southern Jumbo, a guitar that if I still had today would be next to priceless.  Like many guitar players, I've got my stories of stupidity.  In the process of swapping, buying and selling guitars, guitarists win some and lose some, which for me included losing my Gibson.   


Dad loved that Gibson.  He was probably just as downhearted as I was when after owning it for just two weeks I hit it on the corner of a piano bench in a Free Methodist Church.  The dent was irritatingly visible to all.  It was soon forgotten a couple years later when I purchased a 1974 Martin D35, one of dad's favourite guitars.  I still have that guitar.  That's one sad story I've managed to avoid.  Dad never had a Martin guitar of his own, but one of his friends from the 1940's did have one.  Talking about stories of stupidity, in a drunken stupor dad's friend ran over his Martin D28 with his car.  


By 1974 my brother, sister, and I, were on our own so dad and mom had some disposable income.  Dad gave me the money to travel to Toronto to buy him a Martin D35 like mine.  Driving a hundred miles to Toronto saved us both $250.00 on each of our Martins. 


Dad would often say that you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.  The Apostle Paul pretty much said the same thing when he told Timothy that we brought nothing into this world and it's certain we can take nothing out of this world (1 Timothy 6:7).  With dad's and Paul's words in mind, here's the rest of my story.


In March 2001 the doctor told dad his back pain should leave by the end of the month, but it didn't.  X-rays and scans during the first week of April showed dad's back pain was due to a massive ball of cancer pushing against his backbone.  That, along with liver cancer detected by the scans would take his life at the age of 77.      


Back in the 1960's dad was fortunate enough to buy his National steel guitar back from the man to whom he sold it.  After that, it never left his possession until he realized his guitar playing days were over.  It was one sad, even pathetic, moment when dad told me to take his steel guitar home with me.  He knew the hearse wouldn't be pulling a U-Haul trailer to his gravesite. 


Two weeks later, while helping my weakened father into the bathroom, he told me that I might as well take his 1980 square neck Dobro home.  I pulled it out of its case and slid the steel bar across the strings, wondering if I'd ever get the hang of playing a Dobro.  Dad assured me that I'd catch on to it.  Well, playing guitar with a slide instead of my fingers isn't as easy for me as dad made it out to be.    


A week before dad left this world, in a voice riddled with resignation, he told me to take his Martin.  Words can't convey how I felt at that moment.  That guitar was his prize possession; and now it was the last to leave his possession.  Of course, dad brought nothing into this world and he wasn't going to take anything out of it. 


When Jesus returns to earth with the saints to rule this planet for a thousand years, dad will return with Him.  From my study of the Bible I believe dad will be playing guitar during those thousand years, and just maybe, I'll finally get the hang of playing a Dobro.  Until then, especially in times of social and financial uncertainty, "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it.  If we have food and clothing, we will be content (1 Timothy 6:6 - 8).  Now there's some advice that should be fundamental to any Christian's personal financial policy.  

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